Ford Street Racing L.A Duel ReviewCain Dornan
Why you would bother releasing an already below-average console racer onto a portable platform some six months after release is beyond us. That is, unless you can manage to somehow completely turn the game around, to fix the countless glaring problems that the game quite clearly suffers from and slap on a new coat of paint. Apparently, this isnt an obvious solution for porting an already troubled game to a new platform months after release. Apparently, its perfectly acceptable to throw it straight over without making any notable refinements.
Thats what the developer of Ford Street Racing: L.A Duel, essentially a straight port of its PC and console brothers that were released in April this year, appears to believe. The game is essentially identical to its bigger brothers; it features the same modes, same vehicles, same tracks (except for seven newly added tracks), and the same bland and severely aged gameplay. The only difference this time is that were a little bit more lenient with the games visuals, of which still look fairly ordinary on the PSP when compared to other racers.
The problem that plagues Ford Street Racing is the bland, boring and unvaried gameplay that not only lacks any sense of speed and excitement, but feels disappointingly featureless. Theres no nitrous or boost, theres no particular little gameplay oddity that helps to set it apart from this overpopulated genre. Instead, it expects gamers to remain content with gameplay that doesnt offer any real incentive for progressing through the game, unless you have an unusual obsession with collecting cars bearing the classic blue Ford logo.
The inclusion of the team racing, which sees you entering races as part of a two-vehicle team, fails to introduce any level of variation or excitement into the gameplay. The mode never really seemed to work as well as it should in the console and PC versions, and still fails to work in the PSP version. While you can try to add some tactics to the racing by making use of the team commands, which include teaming-up to achieve drafts, to block other racers to help one of the vehicles who are falling behind to catch up, or commanding the other vehicle to racer aggressively and try to gain a better position. Regardless of what you do, the AI-controlled vehicles chalk-line following personality means that they dont react to what you do particularly well, and are unlikely to change their course or playing style, opting to stick to their set pre-determined course instead of adding some realistic reactions and changes.
The game obviously only tries to appeal to the Ford fan, and it is fairly successful at doing so to an extent. Theres a healthy collection of Ford vehicles available for play, ranging from classic oldies including the 1962 Thunderbird, 1968 Mustang GT and the 1970 Mustang Boss 429. Theres also a bunch of newer-model performance rides, such as the surprisingly speedy Bronco concept, the 2005 Mustang GT and the 2004 SVT Lightning. A collection of high performance Ford models also make it into the game, including the sexy new Mustang GT-R Concept, the 2005 Ford GT, and the Shelby GR-1 Concept.
Its a solid selection of vehicles on hand, covering several decades of memorable Ford vehicles. The developers had a keen shot at recreating each vehicle down to the finest detail, and for the most part, theyre quite successful in doing so. While they may not always control completely accurate to their real form (most of the vehicles seem to have the same feel to them), the accurate graphical detail that has been applied to each vehicle is quite satisfying, resulting in the vehicles looking true to their real-world counterpart.
Unfortunately, at the same time, the tracks in which youll race in often seem to be a little on the bland side, both design wise and their visual appearance. None of the tracks are creative enough to be remembered or really enjoyed, and the scenery seems to lack a level of detail that results in most tracks looking plain boring. Add to this the fact that the game is completely void of any in-game music, leaving only the tiring drones of the competing vehicles to be heard, and its pretty clear how quickly the gameplay will lose your interest.
If you manage to find someone else who also has a copy of the game, you can partake in some straightforward multiplayer racing matches through the PSPs wireless multiplayer capabilities. Unfortunately, given that the gameplay is still as bland as the single player component, its unlikely youll spend much time, if at all, with this feature.
It was difficult to recommend the original console version of the game, and with virtually no improvements being made to the PSP version, its still hard to recommend to Ford or racing fans alike. Theres certainly plenty of better racers currently available on the PSP, and while they may not have quite the collection of Ford vehicles that Ford Street Racing L.A. Duel offers, they at least offer a much more enjoyable and varied experience.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.